Sports Safety for Kids Mouths & Orthodontic Emergencies

Sports are a normal part of many of our lives. We watch them, learn invaluable life skills from them and, most importantly, participate in them. Playing sports with braces, however, can present a bit of a challenge. You want to see your child smiling when they land a big play or score, and you don’t want anything to prevent that. If your child has braces, a retainer, or clear aligners, they need adequate protection to avoid injuries and permanent mouth damage. 

To help protect your child’s smile, the team at Seabreeze Orthodontics has put together some things to think about when playing sports with braces. This list should help you determine how to help protect your child during sporting events and guide you through the process of finding a mouthguard.

Gearing Up For The Game

According to a survey conducted by the American Association of Orthodontists, 99% of parents with children playing organized sports believe mouthguards should be required to play. However, close to 40% of those parents said their children never wear one for practice or games. 

If your child isn’t already used to wearing a mouthguard, it can be challenging to help them get started and get into the habit of keeping it on before a game. Still, it is one of the inexpensive ways to protect your child’s teeth, tongue, gums, and cheeks from trauma during extra-curricular activities. 

Orofacial injuries are a risk for participants of all ages, genders, and skill levels. Whether it’s organized and unorganized sports, at recreational and competitive levels, at school, or in kids’ leagues. While most dental injuries are sustained during collision and contact sports, they are prevalent in limited-contact, non-contact, and high-velocity activities.

All About Mouthguards

Mouthguards come in many different options. According to the ADA Council of Scientific Affairs and Council on Advocacy for Access and Prevention, an ideal mouthguard should adequately fit the wearer’s mouth and accurately adapt to their oral structures. It’s also important that they’re made of resilient material approved by the FDA and easy to clean.

If your child is undergoing orthodontic treatment, talk with one of our orthodontists to ensure the mouthguard will fit over their appliances and not damage the device or harm your mouth if an impact occurs. 

Stock Mouthguards

Also referred to as “pre-made mouthguards,” this option is the most common mouthguard due to availability. You are likely to find it in a sporting goods store. These mouthguards come in various sizes and colors to suit as many wearers as possible. However, the stock mouthguard is considered the least effective option because it has a generic design that is not one-size-fits-all for every mouth. This gives it an improper fit and requires the mouth to be shut to keep it in place. 

Custom-made Mouthguards

Custom-made mouthguards are created in a dental office or orthodontic lab from individual patient impressions using thermoforming techniques to be fully customized and provide wearers with the best fit to adapt to their mouth. This is often the most expensive option for oral protection, but the balanced occlusion and maximized tooth contact significantly reduce the risk of the mouthguard becoming displaced while playing sports.

Sports Safety for Kids Mouths & Orthodontic Emergencies

Mouth-formed Mouthguards

Also referred to as “boil-and-bite,” these mouthguards are designed to be warmed in water briefly to become permeable and then cooled slightly to be placed in the mouth and bitten down to create a customized fitting. These can usually be found in sporting goods stores or online. A dental professional may help facilitate the proper forming around dental appliances in some cases. Follow all manufacturer’s instructions precisely to ensure adequate heating and molding of the thermoplastic material, and avoid improper shaping creating a poorly fitted device with diminished protection.

Avoiding Emergencies

When your child has their first sports-related dental injury, we want you to be prepared. Remember to stay calm and carefully examine and take note of the damage to be explained to the dental professional. Contact your orthodontist for specific instructions on mitigating your injury until they see you in the office. Here are some of the more common injuries we see and how to handle them best.

Fractured Tooth

When this happens, it can seem far scarier than the reality of the experience. To stabilize the broken or chipped tooth and control any bleeding, you can bite gently on a towel as you head to your dentist. If the tooth piece has come out of the mouth completely, it can be transported in milk, under your tongue, or wrapped in saline-soaked gauze. 

Missing Tooth

If the whole tooth has come out of the socket, do not touch the roots and pick the tooth up by the crown. Rinse it in water and place the tooth back into the socket it came from, gently biting down on a towel to hold it in place as you head to the emergency dentist. Believe it or not, a tooth placed back into the socket within 5 minutes of ejection can be permanently saved. 

Extruded or Laterally Displaced Tooth 

This injury will look like a tooth is longer than usual and often appears with the displaced tooth being pushed back or pulled forward. To reposition this tooth, place firm but precise pressure on it. This process can be painful and is best performed by a dental professional. 

Intruded Tooth

If the tooth looks like it’s shorter than usual, it’s possible it has been pushed into the bone and become intruded. This is a painful experience and requires an immediate visit to an emergency dentist. Do not attempt to pull the tooth out or reposition the tooth. 

Sports Safety for Kids Mouths & Orthodontic Emergencies

Protect Your Smile With Seabreeze Orthodontics

At Seabreeze Orthodontics, our practice’s purpose, mission, and goal is to provide patients in the Conway, Carolina Forest and Myrtle Beach, SC community with the highest quality of care. We work diligently to make customized treatments for your unique needs and interests. Please call us if you or someone you know is interested in orthodontic treatment. We are ready to get your child in the game and score a winning smile.